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The Underrated Fruity Scent of Pear

By Renée Batchelor

Tung Pham/Tok Wei LunClockwise from top left: Annick Goutal Petite Chérie Eau de Parfum, S$300; Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal à Paris Eau de Toilette, S$129; Louis Vuitton Cœur Battant, S$340; Jo Malone London English Pear & Freesia Cologne, S$215.

When it comes to fruit notes in fragrances, the pear is a bit of an underrated gem. While citrus notes, like mandarin orange and lemon, are an instant shortcut to telegraph zest and a sparkling quality, the pear is a sweeter, altogether more subtle fruit. Not as commonly used in perfumery, the versatility of the pear’s fragrance is its strong point. Depending on the variety of the pear fruit used, as well as the facet that is brought out in a particular fragrance, the pear note can either smell fleshy, green, crunchy or juicy. 

Louis Vuitton’s range of luxury fragrances is expertly created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud. Its newest scent, Cœur Battant (French for heartbeat), celebrates the pear note, pairing it with ambrette seeds and a synthetic ingredient called cascalone. According to the perfumer, the fragrance is very much about the frisson of voluptuousness that one experiences when biting into a juicy fruit. The scent: A cool, crisp version of the pear takes the top note, enhanced by the sublime, musky odour of ambrette seeds, and as it wears on, a fresh and slightly aquatic note lingers on the skin, thanks to the cascalone molecule. The final composition is a radiant, woody floral, brought together by other notes like Egyptian jasmine, narcissus and a chypré (a perfume group) base of pure patchouli and moss, that balances the more sensuous notes with the lightness of pear. 

Jo Malone London’s English Pear & Freesia cologne is one of the fragrances that kickstarted the renaissance of pear-based scents upon its release in 2010, and today is one of its signature scents. English Pear & Freesia was created by perfumer Christine Nagel (the current in-house perfumer for Hermès). Using the King William pear as the main ingredient, this accord gives the scent its ripe, juicy nuances. Balanced with floral notes of white freesia, the scent is further mellowed by base notes of amber, patchouli and woods, that prevent it from straying into over-sweetness and gives it a more lasting trail. Sprayed on the skin, the scent is redolent of ripened pears waiting to be plucked off the branch, making it delicious,
but not overly sweet. 

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Scandal à Paris pairs its signature honey note with a velvety pear for a more gourmand twist on the fruit. The fragrance already has two other versions — the original Eau de Parfum and a more intense night version — and was created by celebrated perfumers Fabrice Pellegrin and Daphné Bugey. Designer Gaultier says of the scent, “At first, it’s very sexy with a gourmand honey note, but [then] so feminine and fresh with the combination of jasmine and fresh pears.” For Gaultier, his fragrance memories are triggered by recollections of his childhood. “I have always approached perfume as something very gourmand that brings back childhood memories or just memories of food, like a Baba au Rhum that I used to eat with my grandmother. In [the] Scandal perfumes you have a strong component of honey which gives this fragrance its ‘gourmand’ side,” he says. 

Finally, a celebration of the pear note in perfumery is not complete without a nod to Annick Goutal’s classic Petite Chérie Eau de Parfum. This fragrance is available in a limited edition, green-tinged flacon that bears an embellished floral patch by English embroidery artist Ellie Mac. The fragrance itself is almost intoxicatingly sweet on first spray, thanks to a blend of pear, juicy peach and musky rose, but as it dries down, it settles into a more subtly invigorating scent. Notes of fresh cut grass and velvety vanilla balance out the saccharine qualities, making this the perfect scent for those who love a buoyant, youthful fragrance that will have others leaning in for a closer whiff.